Archive for the ‘mediation’ Category

UN To Create Security Council Ombudsman & New Mediation Division Launched

December 28, 2009

UN To Create Ombudsman For Security Council & New Mediation Division

Recently the United Nation’s Security Council announced it will created an Ombudsman Office. This position is being created specifically in response to concerns over its own No Fly List.

According to the CBC, “The Security Council’s unanimous decision to appoint an ombudsman is aimed at ensuring that UN sanctions target the right people, companies and organizations for links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Creation of the Ombudsman Office was passed unanimously by the Council and the position will initially be created for 18 months to assist the sanctions committee to review the procedures regarding delisting individuals on the list.

Further information from the article explains how the Ombuds will be chosen, “The ombudsman will be appointed by the UN Secretary General, and will be someone who should be “an eminent individual of high moral character, impartiality and integrity with high qualifications and experience in relevant fields, such as legal, human rights, counter-terrorism and sanctions”, a UN release stated.”

The United Nations currently has an Ombudsman Office which serves the employees of the UN. You can read more about that office, and John Barkat, the current ombudsman, [here].

Note, their site is newly re-designed and you will notice the UN has created a new Mediation Division with the Ombudsman Office. The office was created in August 2009 as per the passing of General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/228. You can read more about the new Mediation Division and its services [here].

Read the full CBC article [here].

Mediator + Money?

October 12, 2009

Tammy, over at Mediator Tech, posted another brilliant piece on “How to develop a financially successful mediation practice: a review“.

Ever wonder how many phases there were to the process? Ever wonder if there were even phases involved?

Yes, I know you did and here they are:

Phase 1: Become a trained mediator – the foundation for everything else on the pyramid

Phase 2: Practice through volunteering – building your skills and your credibility

Phase 3: Part-time practice – you’re getting paid, but not able to support yourself yet

Phase 4: Part-time practice – starting to get case momentum, realize it’s time to decide whether or not to commit to making mediation your day job

Phase 5: Full-time practice – able to make a reasonable living as a mediator

Phase 6: A premier practice – booked months out, people will wait to get on your schedule, you can be selective about the cases you will accept

If interested, read more on it [here].

Non Attorney Mediators- Not Welcome?!?

August 10, 2009

Non Attorney Mediators- Not Welcome!?

Recently someone said having mediators on court mediation rosters be limited to those who are also an attorney was a reasonable rule.

I do not agree.

I vehemently disagree.

Things are dangerously becoming more and more an “us versus them” situation. The two sides to the “us and them” issue are non attorney mediators and mediators who also happen to be attorneys. I happen to belong to the “us” side.
Before I continue, let’s go back to the first paragraph. I ask each of you reading this, is it reasonable to have only mediator’s who are also attorneys be allowed on court rosters? Please, leave some feedback. Let’s hear it from both sides.
By the way, a reason the person gave for the law degree requirement is because of the education you then know the mediator has which then qualifies them to be on the roster. Yes, being educated and possessing a law degree gives a mediator a wealth of insider knowledge of the courts and the understanding of the various jargon and processes but does that translate into a requisite for a mediator?
If this continues, the mediation field for those without law degrees is going to shrink and I believe it can eradicate people like me from being involved. As I type this, I realized perhaps an important point to make- the ‘reasonable comment’ was in relation to a court service where the mediators will be paid. This brings up another question I have- is it ok for mediators without a law degree to mediate in the courts as long as they are volunteers? When it comes to getting paid, is that just for attorneys?
What is a mediator without a law degree to do? To answer my own question with a question, does it matter if I applied for one of these positions and said that I have a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution? Surely that would fulfill the education requirement… right?
Another potential way to prevent the “us” from losing out to the “them” is (drum roll please) certification. Yes, certification. It seems like all talk on the Internet recently has been around the certification process of mediators. Could a national or international certification scheme help mediators in this case? [read recent comments on mediation certification at Mediation Channel, Mediate.com, Negotiation Law Blog and the Ombuds Blog]
Mediators need to increase their power and certification might be the way to do that. Yet another question for everyone- is it healthy that the ABA’s section on Dispute Resolution is arguably one of the most powerful ADR groups in the country, maybe in the world? What does that say for the field since it is an attorney based organization?

If the ACR could get a certification scheme up and running that could help level the playing field that seems to be titling in a direction heavily towards “them”. I recently became certified by the International Mediation Institute and they very well can potentially help as well. What I particularly like about IMI is 1) they are a non-profit organization and 2) they do not offer any services but are instead just a location for people to find qualified mediators.
The way I see certification helping is I think it will make choosing certified mediators become a ‘reasonable’ choice. A proper certification program, which I purposely will not go into here and that is a separate issue in itself, would give its mediators credibility as they have proved through the certification process they are educated, knowledgeable and have the requisite skills needed to mediate. There, no law degree is required anymore!
I would like to keep this short as many people have already given opinions recently on the pro and con side of certification of mediators. What I am trying to do is show a new angle of how it might benefit mediators.
It does not have to be “us versus them” but under a united certification plan, we all can be “us” under a process where a law degree does not exclude people.

Kiwi Mediators To Get $3,000 A Day!

August 9, 2009

Nominations Sought For Court Ordered Mediation Pilot

Last month Justice Minister Simon Power and Courts Minister Georgina Te Heuheu announced that the High Court in Auckland would introduce a pilot scheme that would see private mediators undertake court-ordered mediation in some civil disputes.

The pilot will commence on November 1 this year and will enable the equivalent of 50 one day-long mediations to be carried out. The Ministry of Justice will pay mediators at the rate of $1500 plus GST for half-day mediations and $3000 plus GST for whole day mediations.

Here the are the qualifications (from the article):

1. Hold a certificate from a recognised mediation training provider;

2. Experience in conducting a reasonable number of mediations;

3. Experience in litigation and/or arbitration generally;

4. Operate at a senior or intermediate level of legal practice.

Read the full article [here].

Sounds like you have to also be an attorney… right?

If anyone has more information, please share it here.

Mediation is confidential…right?

August 3, 2009

Mediator Summoned to Give Evidence at Trial Regarding Mediation

This article is definitely worth a read. Both parties agreed to waive the confidentiality agreement during a court proceeding but the mediator still refused to provide a witness statement.Clause 6 of the Agree to Mediate Contract stated the following:

* all communications at and relating to the mediation would be without prejudice;

* all information produced for the mediation (or arising in relation thereto) would be kept confidential;

* all documents produced for the mediation (or arising in relation thereto) would be privileged and would not be admissible as evidence or discoverable in litigation or arbitration connected with the dispute (as defined); and

* none of the parties to the mediation agreement would call the mediator as a witness in litigation or arbitration in relation to the dispute, nor would the mediator voluntarily act in any such capacity without the written agreement of all parties.

Despite that, the judge had this to say:

The judge dismissed the application and held that the mediator should give evidence in response to the witness summons. In reaching his decision, he considered at length the legal and academic authorities on confidentiality and privilege in mediations.

So what would you do if you were in this situation? What’s the point of a confidentiality agreement? Has anyone been in a similar situation?Read the rest of the article [here].

The judge does give a detailed response for his ordering the mediator to sit in the witness stand and it is listed in the article.

Note: this took place in the United Kingdom.

Q & A With Steve Mehta

July 22, 2009

I recently corresponded via email with Steve Mehta, mediator and blogger, and asked him some questions about his upcoming book, 112 Ways to Succeed In Any Negotiation Or Mediation as well as some other questions on current ADR topics. Below you will find the unedited answers, enjoy!

Q: Steve, tell me, why 112, seriously, how did you come up with that amount?

It’s a good question. I knew that over the years of teaching seminars and mediation I had a lot of tips and points that could help people negotiate better. As such, there were two things that created the 112 ways. First, I didn’t want it to be the cliché 101 ways. Many writers have done101 ways to do something. So I wanted it to be more. But I also thought about how college classes are taught. Negotiations 101 usually signifies a basic course on the subject. My book simplifies the material, but is providing more advanced material than 101.
As such, for those two reasons. I came up with 112. Also, as a side note, I had over 400 negotiating points in starting the book. But I thought that would make the book huge and unmanageable. Maybe that will be in the next book.
Q: who is the intended audience for your book- the i-might-be-interested in ADR gal, the rookie ADR guy, the mid career mediator, or the grumpy veteran?

Quite frankly, everyone is the target. Obviously anyone interested in ADR would be interested in this book from the new person to the seasoned veteran like yourself. But the book isn’t just about ADR. It is targeted to help everyone – From the real estate agent to the soccer mom. Everyone negotiates. Everyone can benefit from learning how to negotiate.
The book provides real world examples that are not formal “negotiations” as a tool to show the reader that every situation is a negotiation. As an example, I got delayed on a flight home from vacation recently and was placed on standby. I used many of the book’s techniques to make sure that my family and I were allowed to get on to the next plane home, despite the fact that it was overbooked by 20 people, and my family was not on the top of the standby list.

Q: why read your book compared to the many other ADR books out there?

I asked myself the same question when I wrote it. How would I make it different than the other negotiating or ADR books. My book fills a void in the literature. Most books are very theoretical and take 40 pages to illustrate one part of the complex idea relating to negotiating. This is not to say that the theoretical book isn’t good. Those books make you think about the concept in general.

My book does two things: One, it puts it right in your lap in a few pages or less. You can learn something about negotiating in a few minutes. You don’t have to read the whole book to get something out of it. Second, though, the book also makes you think. You will say to yourself – that was easy. But as you think about it more, you see the multiple possibilities. It is like the art that uses small pictures of items to make a larger picture of something else.
When you look at the smaller picture, you can see exactly what it is quickly. When you step back and look at the picture in the context of the whole, you see a much larger and completely different picture that is made up of the many small pictures. As the reader thinks more about the point or reads on further, more pieces of the puzzle get put together. At any time, that one picture can be viewed in the context of the whole.
Q: please tell us about your experience as a mediator (what areas)?

I have been mediating since 1999. Since about 2002, I have been exclusively working as a full time mediator. I have mediated all types of civil litigation cases including employment, real estate, personal injury, business and elder abuse. I have also done many community mediations.

Q: OK, now that you told us your mediator experience, does that necessarily translate to being a successful author?

You never know what appeals to consumers to buy a book. I think that the experience I have is shown in the book by giving a teaching point and then an illustration from my experience about that point. I believe that life’s experiences make for interesting stories.
So I guess I hope that others will find the stories and issues interesting.

Q: What other ADR books do you recommend?

There are so many. Getting to Yes is a great starter. Getting Past No is another. Bargaining for Advantage is another. That’s just a few.

Q: How do you feel about the term “certified mediator”?

There are several issues involved. First, if you are a mediator and are successful in being able to resolve disputes or have a practice, then certification means nothing. However, to help a person get some type of credentialing it is beneficial.

A problem with certification also relates to who enforces it. If we are going to say that a mediator must be certified to practice, then will we have a regulatory organization – will it be statewide, or national. Do you need a license? If it is something for a person to put up on the wall – great. But if it is mandatory, that may create many problems.
Q: I have to ask one non-open ended question, who will win this year’s Ashes Series (I know you will have to look up what the Ashes Series is as will 95% of my readers but I am really looking forward to it!)?

First. You are right, I did have to look it up, but I had a pretty good idea of what you were asking about without looking it. My answer, after that is absolutely clear. I am a loyal subject of the United Kingdom, having been born in England, and I would have to say that England will and should win the Ashes Series in cricket.

Q: Why do you blog?
Information. To be honest blogging makes me a better mediator. I constantly have deadlines to get new content out on the blog. My view is always that you never stop learning. So writing a blog forces me to continue to be up to date and fresh. Plus, it lets me communicate in different ways with many people. I was, just like yourself, a communications major in college. I love to communicate.

Q: Any suggestions for would-be bloggers?

Do it. Find what you love and write about it.

Q: What other, if any, blogs do you follow?

Your’s, of Course and all the blogs that are on mediate.com’s blog roll. I love Tammy Lenski’s blog on technology. I also like Diane Levin’s blog and finally Victoria Pynchon’s. I also like Geoff Sharp’s. But in addition, I like to read blogs on all types of topics. I get a lot of information from blogs in psychology, social psychology, philosophy, technology, and gadgets.

Q: Are you ever evaluative while mediating?

Yes. I think an effective mediator has to play different roles at different times. You should never say never. Well maybe there are exceptions, but I can’t think of it. As a mediator you should be able to use all the tools in your toolbox. That is one of the themes of the book. So being evaluative has its place.

Bonus Question:
Q: finally, tell us when your book comes out, and how can we purchase it?
The book launches officially on a widespread release on August 1. It has been in limited release earlier and is now in all major booksellers and online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also go to the book’s website, http://www.112ways.com.

I wanted to also take the time to thank you for your interest in the book and in asking me these questions. It has been a pleasure.

Online Dispute Resolution

June 30, 2009

Recently I had a conversation with someone in regards to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and how the person thought it had less human interaction compared to traditional ADR methods. I responded saying I actually think instead of viewing as ‘less’ or ‘more’, it is another choice for the parties. ODR is a new form of human interaction.
It reminds me of a teaching of impermanence– nothing stays the same regardless of how much you like or dislike it. ODR has arrived because people find it useful with the growing use of the Internet and computers. It does not mean it is for everyone and it does not have to be. It is just like hybrids versions of ADR– new ones keep popping up as people’s preferences change and evolve.

The variety of ADR services, now including ODR/iDR I think is reflective of the world we currently live in. Yes, we are ‘global citizens’ more now than ever but there is still that uniqueness that is present and should be acknowledged. Mediation via email or txt is str8 2 da pt 4 sum ppl & that is a good thing.

No idea what that means? No idea what the LOL image means? Embrace technology- Learn text talk here.
For others, letting some machine automate some number that is supposed to make both sides happy works for them. For the stubborn and ancient dinosaurs, there is face to face mediation still. Of course the last comment is sarcastic but my point is look how ADR has evolved. It is an example of the impermanence I mentioned earlier. As times change, it is only natural that the way we as conflict resolvers look at conflict and then appropriately adjust to the parties needs. Let’s not forget, it is their process.
Self determination (recently discussed here) is a major reason people turn to ADR. People like having a say in how issues that directly affect them will be decided. Conflict could be broken down into three levels- substantive, psychological and procedural. It is in the third, procedural, where the new world of ODR has given the parties yet another choice on how to interact with the other party.

New Certification Program

June 4, 2009

Mediate.com Announces Certification Program

I am sure many readers already know about this as either a) you also read other blogs and/or b) you read mediate.com.

Below I will post a roundup of all the coverage it has received, as well as opinions. The only comment I have is from the Q & A (first link below). Setting aside the issue if it is needed or worthy, I wonder why, that it is only going to be available to a very limited amount of people? Why not have a few tiers?

As Jim admits, of the 3,000 mediators listed in the site’s directory, only about 500 would be accepted… and that is if they even apply. If the concern is how certain groups (the court programs are used as an example) are not staying true to the ideals of mediation, what impact will this program have if only a small group of mediators receive this certification?

Staying with the issue on court based mediation, I would think most are volunteer mediators. How many would want to pay the fee to become a Mediate.com member (as required to apply for certification) and then another fee to become certified? How many volunteers would meet the 500 hour requirement? Another thought that comes to mind is that the parties in court based mediations do not even get to choose the mediator.

Enough of me and my questions. Does anyone else have any? I know no program (yet at least) will be the complete package to solve all the issues and problems in the mediation world. My intention is not to be hard on this new program. If anything, it has sparked my interest and that is what made me think of these questions.

Onto the web round up of coverage:

* The announcement from Mediate.com

* The top 3 bloggers– Diane, Vickie and Geoff asked Jim Melamed, CEO of Mediate.com some questions about the new program [here]
* Organizational Ombuds Blog (in depth review, worth a read)
* Mediation Channel (announcing it)
* Ombuds Blog (nice bullet points)
* Negitiation Law Blog (same as the first link)
* Mediator Blah Blah (Geoff broke the news first)

What a Day

January 21, 2009

What a Day

Yesterday we celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his promotion of nonviolence while today we celebrate the inauguration of our new President, Barack Obama.

President Obama said the following in his speech today, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.

“For everywhere we look, there is work to be done,” he said, ticking off needs in the areas of the economy, energy, education and myriad other fronts. “All this we can do, and all this we will do.”

A single person can not change the country or world, but together, change is possible.

I applaud everyone in the mediation, and conflict resolution/alternative dispute resolution world that practice, teach and promote the values and concept that communication can lead to understanding, which then can lead to genuine peace (especially the volunteers!).

Finally, on this historic day, I quote another champion of the peace and nonviolent path, Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”